Subsidised medicine helps cure prisoners of Hepatitis C

Georgian prisoners successfully undergo governmental free hepatitis C program., 27 Aug 2014 - 19:12, Tbilisi,Georgia

 The first group of prisoners undergoing the free Hepatitis C program in Georgian jails have been cured of the disease.

Deputy Minister of Corrections Archil Talakvadze announced the positive results of the Government-funded initiative today and said the seven patients who participated in the program had been tested and their results showed they no longer carried the Hepatitis C virus.

Talakvadze noted similar initial results for an additional 70 prisoners who are due to finish treatment in one week.

A further 216 patients will finish the program in the next few months.

By the end of the year, it is expected more than 500 prisoners will be involved in the program, Talakvadze said. By this time, experts believe 96 percent of infected prisoners will be cured of the disease.

Deputy Minister Talakvadze read a letter to journalists written by inmates of Gldani Prison #8, which stated the improvement of the healthcare system in prison. The convicts said being cured of Hepatitis C would offer them the chance to start "a new life”.

The inmates’ treatment process was managed by a highly qualified team of doctors/infection experts, public health experts and laboratory testing staff.

The decision to administer treatment to prisoners was made by a committee of doctors based on the patient’s medical criteria. Representatives of civil society also participated in the decision-making process.

The Hepatitis C program was a government initiative that has been carried out in Georgian prisons since 2013. The program involved raising awareness of infection prevention, diagnosis and treatment with the prisoners.

Since the program established, more than 5,000 prisoners have undergone treatment.

Parallel to the free treatment for prisoners, the cost of treatment for the public sector was reduced by 60 percent, to make the medicine more affordable and accessible to the wider population. People needing this treatment should address the Ministry of Health for the discounted medicine.